PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Pennsylvania State Senators are pushing for school students to be eligible to receive free school lunches starting at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

According to Senator Lindsey M. Williams and Senator Judith L. Schwank, legislation will be re-introduced that provides free school meals to all students.

In the proposed legislation, it was noted that students with a family income of 185% of the poverty level or below would qualify for free or reduced school breakfast or lunch. This proved to be difficult, especially for families who fall just outside of the USDA’s income-eligibility guidelines.

The Pennsylvania State Senate stated that a family of four must be living on $36,075 or less in order to currently be eligible for free school meal, making the guidelines difficult for families.

With the rising supply chain costs, some schools have been forced to raise their meal prices, meaning that families who were paying for meals before will now pay much more.

With the past three years being tough for families and students, the Pennsylvania State Senators believe that feeding every student in Pennsylvania would be beneficial and that the cost would be a small fraction of the state’s overall budget.

Other states, including California, Maine, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Nevada have all stepped up to provide free lunches and healthy meals to all their students.

Williams and Schwank stated that the bill will provide free school meals to all students who are not already covered through the federal free and reduced-price-meal and Community Eligibility Provision programs.

The program will also eliminate all school lunch debt so that families and schools can begin next year with a fresh start.

This legislation was Senate Bill 1327 in 2021-22. Senate Bill 1327 was previously co-sponsored by Senators Collett, Fontana, Schwank, Dillon, Comitta, Costa, Brewster, Kearney, Cappelletti, Kane, Muth, Hughes, and A. Williams.